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Eureka! by Marie Chiba


For anyone who loves sake, Marie Chiba is certainly a name they are familiar with. Famous for not just her amazing sake-pairing abilities, brilliant sake collaborations, and of course co-author of "Sake Pairing" together with no other than Hitoshi Utsunomiya (Director of JSS) among many many other things (hello Sake Samurai!), she now also has opened her new venture in the very heart of Tokyo - Eureka!




Eureka! - The Concept


Located in trendy Nishiazabu, Minato-ku in Tokyo on the second floor of what might have been a residential apartment block in another era is not inhibited by a mix of few restaurants and shops of all sorts. As a matter of fact, you might just walk passed it, if you were not to know it was here. As only a small neon sign meshed in with others at the front and an inconspicuous door with a tiny sign let you know you found it.


The space is intimate, 12 counter seats, a small standing-only space for walk-ins (however I would personally not try to risk it), and one room for small groups at the back. It has an Orient-inspired pop culture feel, chic, clean, yet not intimidating.




The crowd that comes here is a mix of local sake enthusiasts, international sake professionals, sake brewers, and local residents. In fact when it first opened it was a revolting door of the who is who in the sake industry, as everyone wanted to pay their respects to Chiba-san and her new endeavor (and of course see, eat, and drink).


Now to be honest the more I came here, the more I did feel that these days, especially a foreign audience is eating there. I think it is because of Chiba-sans cult status, but also because of Eureka!'s clean concept, easy-to-understand menu (there is an English one for a start), innovative sake & food pairings and knowing that "this is where you will be able to drink some of the best sake Japan has to offer", without having to be "in the known" or already be an expert.


And then for many another appeal of Eureka! is a chance to meet Chiba-san and experience a little bit of her magic. Because when she is working in the restaurant (which as far as I deducted is pretty much always, with the exception of some Sundays), her passion for sake really sparks joy and it is hard to resist. It feels like you are sitting in her home and all the interactions are genuine with a desire to not just pour, but to communicate the story of sake.




What's on the Menu


Let's talk about food first. The seasonal menu is pretty straightforward, there are a handful of classic dishes that you will find all year around like Marie Chiba's famous deep-fried ham katsu stuffed with blue cheese (which, by the way, is hands down one of my favorite dishes here) or her Instagram hit and perfectly conceived black squid ink mayo egg.


And then, there are the seasonal plates. When I visited last time it was their new Summer menu and everything was light and fresh. I especially loved her Burrata and Peas dish - super simple, refreshing, and great with sake.



Now once you know what you would like to eat, the real gem is to let the staff (and in that case mostly Chiba-san) suggest the sake for each dish. Now for me, I will always order the classic blue cheese and ham katsu and the reason why is that I am a huge Doburoku fan and this is always paired with one of my favorite Doburoku of all time from Tono-based Doburoku maker Nondo's brew. Hint, there are actually a few other dishes that you might get lucky to drink this Doburoku, including the shiokoji-marinated fried chicken or her homemade Japanese Curry.



As you are starting to enjoy your meal, you might also notice different people receiving different sake pairings for the same dish and this is not random. Under the watchful eye of the staff they personally curate the sake according to what you might like and their accuracy is amazing.


One thing worth mentioning, as you are looking at the food menu, you will find prices quite reasonable, but you might be taken a little by surprise by the final bill. With all the rare and unique bottles held in these fridges, whatever you might expect to pay for your food, triple that and you get closer to what your final bill might look like...


一期一会


One Time, One Meeting.


As you are looking through photos on Instagram or Facebook from Eureka! aside from photos of Chiba-san and of course bottles and bottles of sake, pretty much everyone is taking a photo of the huge neon sign spelling out “strawberry meeting” which as a matter of fact is hard to oversee.


Beautiful and certainly a decorative statement on its own, it bears another meaning. The term 一期一会 (Ichigo ichie) in Japanese means something like "one time, one meeting”), which is a Japanese proverb symbolic of "once in a lifetime encounters", to be in the right time at the right place.


But what has that to do with Strawberries? Japanese love a good play on words and "ichigo" has another meaning, you might guess it is strawberry. So as we are looking at the English "Strawberry Meeting" it is really a fun representation of 一期一会.




Reservations: Can be made via DM on Instagram. Make sure to include: Date, Time, Number of People, Name, and Phone Number.

Location: Google Maps



And if you are looking for more great places to try sake, shops or breweries check out Tokyo Sake Tourism, where I continue to upload more great places to discover and enjoy Japanese Sake!

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